Fix the system that failed Breonna Taylor

Breonna Taylor’s family is right: The system failed her. She should be alive today, but she is not.

It is too late to save Taylor, who died in a hail of bullets from three police officers in Louisville, Kentucky one night in March. It is not too late for law enforcement officials throughout the country to ask themselves if what went wrong in Louisville could happen in their towns, cities and counties.

Grand jurors in Louisville investigated Taylor’s death and came up with violently controversial decisions. One of the three officers was indicted for reckless behavior because shots he fired went into an apartment beside Taylor’s. Fortunately, no one there was hurt.

None of the three officers was indicted in connection with Taylor’s death, however. That set off rioting in Louisville.

Critics of the grand jury action are demanding what amounts to an investigation of how it was handled.

Regardless of how that turns out, a young woman who ought to be alive today is not. She was 26 years old, a former emergency medical technician who had moved on to hospital ER technician — someone who had committed her life to saving lives and did nothing wrong that night she died. So what went wrong?

Louisville police stormed into Taylor’s apartment late that night in March to serve a drug warrant. Police had been investigating Taylor’s former boyfriend. It remains unclear why they went to her apartment, but it’s clear they should not have been there.

Initial reports were that a “no-knock” warrant was used, with officers breaking into the apartment with no warning. Now they insist they did knock and announce they were the police.

Whatever the case, Taylor and her new boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were watching a movie in the apartment when the three officers entered. Walker, who says he thought they were intruders, got a gun and opened fire. He hit one officer in the leg. All three returned fire, hitting Taylor six times and killing her.

How could that have happened? No one had or has accused Taylor of any crime. Yet she was killed.

Were police afraid and thus quicker on the trigger because she and her boyfriend were Black, living in a majority-Black part of town? Police and government officials must examine themselves honestly on this point if our nation is ever to improve race relations.

Nothing like Taylor’s death should ever happen again anywhere. Changes in how police handle drug warrants have been made in Louisville.

Again, law enforcement officials everywhere should examine what happened in Louisville carefully. They should ask themselves if procedures, rules and laws in their jurisdictions — including right here — make it possible for a similar tragedy to occur. If such potential exists, changes need to be made.


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